The power of your peer group

‘The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the expectations of your peer group.’

I can clearly remember when I heard Anthony Robbins say this because it turned my life in a new direction.

If you were going into a fight would you want Muhammad Ali in your corner or your alcoholic uncle?

The answer is obvious.

It doesn’t matter how committed you are or how much desire you have, if you are dragged down by the people you have in your corner then you’re penalising yourself from the start.

And the reality is that most doctors are entering the ring with their metaphorical bum uncle, so they’re getting chewed up and spat out and joining the over 50% who are in burnout.

When you have the equivalent of Muhammad Ali in your corner you give yourself an unfair advantage.

Why do you need to stack your corner?

The fast track

There are two ways to learn.

The ‘learn as you go’ method where you make your own mistakes and then re-invent the wheel to grind out a slow and laborious progress

Or the fast track where you learn from others and refine tested ideas to make fast and effective progress.

All the extremely successful people I know, doctors included, tend towards using the fast track. However being a bit stubborn we can also slip back to using the first method, get slapped, and are then reminded why we must use the second method!

If something has been done well before then the smart thing to do is to learn from that, then aim to improve upon it. By trying to reinvent the wheel you place yourself at a massive disadvantage because you are starting well behind the pack.

When you become successful you will have learnt this, and you will learn this if you want to become successful.

The question is: How expensive do you need to make the lesson?

When I started MedRecruit I thought I was a wunderkind and could do anything better than anyone. I decided there was no IT platform good enough for my business so decided to build one from scratch. I gave away 20% of my company, and half a million dollars, five years later, I bought back the 20% for a huge amount of money and threw out the system we’d built. Then I spent $150,000 on an off-the-shelf product that we customised to do exactly what we wanted.

Lesson learned.

There are people much better at many things than me and I’m now happy to admit that and to learn from them.

So the first reason to stack your corner is to ensure that you are taking the fast track to success, which isn’t just a fast way to disaster.

That’s why you’re reading this blog. You are looking for the fast track and that’s smart.

Be a small fish

As I have noted, Anthony Robbins said, ‘The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the expectations of your peer group.’

As human beings most of us care to some extent about what people think of us. At some level we want to fit in and to connect with those closest to us.

As a result we will adjust our expectations of ourselves to meet the expectations of those closest to us, and by doing this we adjust our personal standards, and therefore the results we get.

While it might feel comfortable, being the big fish in a small pond is the surest way to place limits on your success. To grow, both yourself and your business, it’s much better to be the smallest fish in a really big pond.

While this might feel uncomfortable, being surrounded by people who are playing at a higher level than you, know that growth will only happen when you move through that discomfort and you start to elevate your own game.

If you are overweight and you want to get fit then it’s a bad idea to team up with an overweight friend who also wants to get fit. That will be an attractive option because it will feel safe, but it won’t be an effective option. Your current fitness is a result of your past standards for eating and exercise, as is your overweight friend’s. Putting two people together with low standards for eating and exercise is less likely to lead to great fitness and more likely to lead to watching TV and eating pizza on the couch together.

If you really want to get fit then go where the fit people are, who hold themselves to the standard you want to achieve. Initially you’ll feel uncomfortable because their high standards will highlight your low standards, but this will cause you to raise your standards and that is what will lead to positive change.

Similarly, as a doctor, if you want to be successful and happy then don’t surround yourself with the majority of struggling stressed doctors. Don’t sit in the café at lunchtime with the biggest moaners and moan with them. All that will do is give you people to complain with and keep you playing small. Surround yourself with really happy doctors who are thriving and you’ll be forced to raise your standards just to stay in that peer group — the results will follow.

So the second main reason to ensure that you stack your corner is to raise your standards. Then you raise the level of the game you are playing and the results you get.

In addition, being around people who are playing at a higher level than you allows you to expand your belief that you can also play at a higher level — it gives you something to reference yourself against.